Thursday, September 8, 2016

The False Equivalency Between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

As the reader can guess, I am a confirmed political junkie. In addition to following newspaper and TV discussions on the issues, I love talking politics with anybody who directly or indirectly brings up an interesting political issue. Then with this being an election year, I gently steer the conversation towards whom they support for president. And yes, I run into plenty of people who support people I don’t support. But that often makes the conversation more interesting. I want to know, why do they feel the way they do?
If somebody supports Hillary, that’s OK. And if somebody supports Trump, that’s OK too – to each their own I say. But all too often, I hear they are both just as bad as each other and that they aren’t going to vote for either one of them.
Although this makes me a bit crazy, I do understand that both of these candidates have low favorability ratings. But to imply that they are equivalent choices is to my mind, pure lunacy.
Allow me to make the case.
Hillary is one of the most experienced candidates ever to run for president. Trump is the least experienced major party candidate we have ever had never having served either in government or the military. No equivalence here.
While both have their opposite party detractors, in Trump, it is impossible to recall any candidate being openly condemned by so many Republican politicians along with conservative commentators. If there are so many Republicans who can’t stand Trump, doesn’t that say something?
When it comes to bigotry and racism, George Wallace may be comparable to Trump. But among major party nominees, nobody can compare to Trump. And has any other major party nominee been so enthusiastically endorsed by hate groups like the KKK? In fairness, we cannot say that all Trump supporters are racists. But l think it’s safe to say that all racists are Trump supporters! Indeed, most observers feel that Trump's so-called ‘birther’ attack on President Obama, charging that he was born in Africa was racially motivated – a charge that he has never recanted.
Also troubling is Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon as his campaign's CEO, formerly of Breitbart News a far right (now better known as alt-right) website that is known for its racist and anti-Semitic posts. Indeed, one of Breitbart's staff was barred from Twitter for a vicious attack campaign on Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones, presumably for being black and female.
And just for good measure, Trump's latest appointment, David Bossie has made a career out of Clinton hating.
There is no denying that Hillary is a flawed candidate. Her judgment in the way she handled the State Department E-mails is certainly open to criticism. And despite the good works of the Clinton Foundation, the prospect of clients calling on both the Foundation and the State Department is always going to look questionable. And while Bill Clinton has promised to separate from the Foundation if his wife wins, perhaps he should have done this at the beginning of her campaign. But for Trump to encourage his rally supporters to yell “Lock her up!” again has no equivalence to any other presidential campaign at least in modern times.
His allegations of “pay to play” now look pathetic next to his contributions to various prosecutors, most notably Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi apparently in exchange for her agreeing not to prosecute Trump over allegations of fraud by the now defunct Trump University. Once again, does Hillary or has any other presidential candidate ever had an equivalent scandal of a Trump organization being accused of bilking people out of their life savings?
And finally for now, neither Hillary Clinton nor any other major party candidate going back to the 70s (except for Gerald Ford) has ever refused to release his income tax returns like Trump has thus far.
So who deserves the blame for spreading this false equivalence between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? Many, including me believe that all too often, the media feels it has a duty to represent both sides of an issue equally even when one side is absurd or has already proven to be wrong. In addition, it appears that Hillary is held to a different standard by the media than Trump which is what happened in the recent Commander-In-Chief Forum where both candidates made separate appearances to answer questions.
But perhaps there is some hope for the media to get its act together. Just recently, the Dallas Morning News, a staunchly conservative newspaper not only condemned Trump as being unfit for office as many other Republicans have done but then also took the bold step of endorsing Hillary Clinton for president. When a Republican candidate forces a newspaper to endorse its first Democratic candidate in 76 years, this perhaps shows best of all that Trump has no equivalence to any other candidate, let alone Hillary. And certainly not in a good way!

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